Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Diego

The Tempest
The Old Globe

Ben Diskant
With the economy still shaky, San Diego's Old Globe looks to be playing it safe this summer. The company had a hit with last year's Shakespeare Festival, so it rehired the artistic director, former Royal Shakespeare Company chief Adrian Noble, who, in turn, hired back many of the same people who worked on last summer's success.

The set of plays being done also mimics last summer: there's a Shakespeare play with a famed leading male role (last year: King Lear; this year: The Tempest), a Shakespeare comedy about the war between the sexes (last year: The Taming of the Shrew; this year: Much Ado About Nothing), and a large cast historical play by a British author (last year: The Madness of George III; this year: Amadeus). The rest of the Globe's summer season fits the mold as well: instead of a Broadway-aspiring musical we have audience favorite Hershey Felder returning as both Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin; and the literate romantic comedy for the smallest theatre is John Morogiello's Engaging Shaw.

Given that we are marking time with the programming, one could at least hope for some innovation in how things are put together. On the basis of The Tempest, however, I'm afraid that everything old may be new again in that category as well.

Not to say that old is necessarily bad. Mr. Noble has brought back his friend Miles Anderson, who valiantly learned The Madness of George III in three weeks last summer when Globe Associate Artist Patrick Page had to withdraw in favor of rehearsing as the Green Goblin in New York's Spiderman: Turn off the Dark. Mr. Anderson is covering both Prospero in The Tempest and Antonio Salieri in Amadeus this summer, and his Prospero was solid if not towering at the official opening. Costume wizard Deidre Clancy is also working the festival this summer, and her Tempest costumes range from rags (for the island dwellers), to what look like scrubs out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest for the spirits, to Navy whites for the royalty, but saving the flashiest items for the sprite, Ariel (the perpetually bare-chested Ben Diskant, looking at times as though he might fit into a Las Vegas revue).

The problem, at least in part, seems to be that nothing much really happens in The Tempest. Prospero has decided to rejoin society after a semi-voluntary exile as Duke of Milan because it is time for his daughter, Miranda (Winslow Corbett), to marry. To do so, Prospero causes a storm to break up a ship carrying Alonso, the King of Naples (Donald Carrier), and his retinue, including the King's son, Ferdinand (Kevin Alan Daniels). With Ariel as a co-conspirator driven by the promise of being set free from his bonds, Fernando is conveniently separated from the others, introduced to Miranda, and the two immediately fall in love. There is a subplot involving Caliban (Jonno Roberts), a half-human who also yearns to be free from Prospero's oversight, which is played primarily for laughs (the other clowns are the hilarious John Cariani as Trinculo and Adrian Sparks as Stephano). A second subplot involves Prospero's brother Antonio (Anthony Cochrane) attempting to usurp his title, but neither amounts to a hill of beans in terms of driving the story. Once the story is introduced, we pretty much know how it is going to play out.

So, Mr. Noble has fallen back on the fact that there's more music in The Tempest than in other Shakespeare plays, and he's recruited the excellent Shaun Davey to provide it. Mr. Davey renders a lilting score from his Irish roots, though Mr. Noble has thrown in a drumming circle for the spirits that might have been found earlier in the day on the Park Boulevard side of Balboa Park. No matter, really; Mr. Davey's musical coda after the final lines are spoken nearly make the evening worthwhile in itself. It certainly sent me out the door with a smile on my face.

Is "same-old-same-old" good enough? It is by all means entertaining enough.

The Tempest runs through September 25 at the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, where it often gets fairly cool by the time the intermission rolls around. On the Old Globe campus, 1363 Old Globe Way, in San Diego's Balboa Park. Tickets ($29 - $64) may be purchased by phoning (619) 23-GLOBE or by visiting the Old Globe website.

The Old Globe presents The Tempest, by William Shakespeare. Directed by Adrian Noble, with Ralph Funicello (Scenic Design), Deirdre Clancy (Costume Design), Alan Burrett (Lighting Design), Dan Moses Schreier (Sound Design), Shaun Davey (Original Music), Charlie Reuter (Music Direction), Joe Fitzpatrick (Puppet Advisor), Steve Rankin (Fight Director), Liz Shipman (Movement), Jan Gist (Dialect Coach) and Bret Torbeck (Stage Manager).

Featuring Miles Anderson, Jonno Roberts, Michael Stewart Allen, John Cariani, Donald Carrier, Anthony Cochrane, Winslow Corbett, Kevin Alan Daniels, Charles Janasz, Jason Maddy and Adrian Sparks, as well as The Old Globe/University of San Diego Graduate Theatre Program students Shirine Babb, Adam Daveline, Grayson DeJesus, Ben Diskant, Christian Durso, Andrew Hutcheson, Rachael Jenison, Jesse Jensen, Allison Spratt Pearce, Deborah Radloff, Ryman Sneed and Jonathan Spivey.

Photo: Henry DiRocco

See the current season schedule for the San Diego area.

- Bill Eadie

Follow Bill on Twitter:

Privacy Policy